After successful launch, SpaceX sets sights on Falcon Heavy

By Jerry Hume, Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, January 08, 2018, 12:10 PM EST

SpaceX is looking ahead to its test launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket after a successful launch of a top-secret government payload Sunday night.

The launch of the "Zuma" payload marked the first launch of 2018 on the Space Coast.

A Falcon 9 rocket soared into the night sky after launching from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The Zuma mission is so secret that the government has not disclosed what agency the payload will be used for.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, SpaceX landed its first-stage booster back on land at the Air Force station.

The rocket, traveling at the speed of sound, created a sonic boom as it touched down.

Now, SpaceX will turn its attention to its Falcon Heavy rocket launch. SpaceX founder Elon Musk calls it the world's most powerful rocket.

A test firing is set for this week, and the test launch is set for the end of this month from the Space Coast.

"It will be not quite as big as the shuttle, but it's able to put a payload into space significantly larger than the shuttle, and it will be the biggest payload capability since the Saturn V that took us to the moon," said Dale Ketcham, vice president of Space Florida. "The neat thing about that is Elon Musk hasn’t guaranteed it's going to work, but he has guaranteed it’s going to be exciting."

The Falcon Heavy will be capable of sending humans to the moon or Mars one day. To prove that, the Falcon Heavy will send a red Tesla Roadster to the orbit around Mars. Musk is also the founder of Tesla.

Not to be outdone, United Launch Alliance is also preparing for its first Space Coast launch of 2018 this month. An Atlas V rocket with an early-warning missile detector satellite is scheduled to launch Thursday, Jan. 18.